The New Standard Course of Gregg Shorthand

“The New Standard Course of Gregg Shorthand” was the working title of the shorthand series that would replace the Anniversary series, which became the Simplified series when published. In a previous post, I showed how the list of brief forms for the “New Standard Course” was very different from the Simplified series, resembling the Anniversary series. I also posted the final list of changes in the Simplified manual. This post is a compilation of articles from The Gregg Newsletter from September 1948 to May 1949 covering news about the new shorthand manual, showing how the “New Standard Course” became the Simplified series. Here is a breakdown of the articles:

September-October 1948: Mrs. Gregg Describes New Manual

November 1948: Transfer to “New” Manual to Be Easy

December 1948:
1. The New Standard Course in Gregg Shorthand by Clyde I. Blanchard (First of four planned articles about the new manual.)
2. Anniversary Series to Continue
3. How to Get Your “New” Manual

January 1949: Brief Forms in the New Standard Course in Gregg Shorthand by Clyde I. Blanchard (Second of four planned articles about the new manual.)

February 1949: Past Tense, Diphthongs, and New Unit Organization in the New Standard Course in Gregg Shorthand by Clyde I. Blanchard (Third of four planned articles about the new manual.)

March 1949:
1. The New “Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified” Goes to Press (this is the first mention of the word “Simplified”)
2. First-Year Simplified-Manual Program
3. Teaching Innovations in the New Manual

April 1949:
1. Questions and Answers about the New Gregg Shorthand Simplified Series
2. Pupils Gain in the New Manuals

May 1949:
1. What About Those Longer Outlines?
2. ‘Most-Used Words’ Is Now Ready

As you can see, the fourth planned article by Clyde I. Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief of The Gregg Publishing Company, was never published. Moreover, the March 1949 newsletter announced the appointment of Charles Zoubek as Gregg Shorthand editor. My sense is that the authors received feedback from teachers regarding the new manual in January 1949, and during February 1949 made a substantial rewrite. While we would probably never know what really happened to make so many drastic changes, the attached documents are very interesting from a historical point of view.

Attachment: new-standard-course-gregg-shorthand.pdf

17 comments Add yours
    1. No. I understood it as rk stroke, because they were talking about a new word ending for expressing the -ract, -rect, -rict, and -ruct endings. It's explained in the December 1948 newsletter. There is no mention of the -rd stroke at all in the newsletters, not even in the outline for the new standard course published in the February 1949 newsletter, which leads me to believe that it was a last minute addition.

  1. Had I been learning or teaching shorthand I would not have been at all pleased, (to put it mildly) to read about these revision plans. What does Blanchard mean on the second page of the Nov. 1948 article where it reads:

    "How the Anniversary Edition of Gregg Shorthand Has Been Simplified–The Anniversary Edition has been simplified by dropping many of the Word-beginnings, Word-endings, and brief forms of that edition, and by returning to the longer but simpler outlines that appeared in Mr. Gregg’s early editions of the system."

    My impression of the Pre-Anniversary systems is that they have the same number or more abbreviations. Which one is he talking about?

    Also, in the final article, referring to Simplified, I would like to know where this statement is validated:

    "The program reflects 'the revision plans of John Robert Gregg, made prior to his death, …."

    I highly doubt the truth of it.

    1. They are talking about the 1902 and previous manuals. For example, the use of the reverse motion circle vowel to express -er at the end of a straight line was something introduced in the 1902 manual (until then, it was only used to express r following circle vowels at the beginning and middle of words). Further, some of the outlines were changed in the 1916 revision and stuck in Anniversary.

      About the last statement, given the difference between the draft and the final, I tend to agree with you.

    2. Even still, isn't it absurd for them to say that the Pre-Anniversary books are less abbreviated than the Anniversary ones? The -ness ending comes immediately to mind and the word "natural." In both the New Standard and Simplified presentations, they're writing out numerous word endings, beginnings, and words, and then trying to make it sound like this is simply the original way it had been intended to be. I would say the key word here is "marketing." It's not the first time that the creator of a successful product, be it a story, a book series, a magazine, or a food, sells out to a larger concern and loses its original "flavor," all the while using the name of the originator. As soon as Mrs. Gregg signed GP over to McGraw-Hill, they could say and do whatever they want with it, because it then became theirs.

      And don't you know that there were older teachers/writers with the old books in hand that weren't buying it? (One of my Spanish teachers, who was well-past retirement age, occasionally complained about how unnecessarily big and heavy the newer (McGraw-Hill) textbooks had become. She then would hold up a 6×9 textbook to show the size of her old college textbook.)

      In any case, I think the execs were just counting on the fact that since Google didn't exist it would be much more difficult for people to dispute their claims. ;->

    3. In Mr. Cowan's excellent biography of Dr. Gregg, he says that in order to win over Pitmanites Dr. Gregg added a lot of shortcuts and extra abbreviation rules by the time the 1916 version came out–and that Dr. Gregg actually regretted this.

      The reason was that Pitman being the disaster that it is, required a lot of "extra" rules and shortcuts to make it practical for reporting. This was so engrained in the Pitmanites, that they couldn't grasp a system that didn't require them. Dr. Gregg added similar features to his system because it was just expected, and many teachers wouldn't take it as credible otherwise. But it wasn't strictly necessary; his system could reach high speeds without such expedients, and he set about to pull some of them back later.

      Of course, there are those of us who can't get enough of these extra rules and shortcuts! I like Chuck's approach: master Anniversary and then go back to the 1916 Manual and reincorporate the rules they subsequently omitted.

    4. Without doing a thorough analysis, a quick glance seems to reveal that it's quite an overstatement to say that either of the new versions is a restoration of any of the earlier editions. A quick peek shows me that Part II of the 1893 edition has the "tr" principle which includes a large number of the word beginnings dropped in Simplified and that many if not most of the remaining word beginnings and endings dropped in Simplified were in the 1893 edition. I'm saying that McGH was employing the "PR" principle. 🙂

      As for the "excellent" Cowan biography, I've been binge buying at my favorite online bargain book basement and just got my copy in the mail a couple of days ago-along with another by Symonds from 1963. I have mainly only had time to read a few random personal interest type paragraphs, (and look at the pictures) so far, but I'm looking forward to giving them my full attention one of these days soon.

      And of course, for the enthusiasts–nothing could replace the ever sought after: Gregg Shorthand–Abbreviated Edition. :->

  2. Thanks, Carols. I didn't see it that way but you're right.

    Do we (the group) have similar documents for the move from pre-Anniversary to Anniversary?

    And, as someone who worked for McGraw-Hill and had the dubious pleasure of pushing S90 to replace DJ, I can say that teachers were NEVER happy about new editions of Gregg.

    1. I'm not aware of having known anyone who learned shorthand from the 1916 manual, but I can certainly see why teachers would not welcome the Anniversary manual as a replacement. The later Speed Building and other supplementary materials would have done a lot to soften the blow, however.

    2. The title of the publication is "Gregg shorthand manual: summary of the new features in the anniversary edition" by John R. Gregg. The only library that I know has it is the New York Public Library, as part of the John Robert Gregg Papers Manuscripts Archives Division. So if you want to take a look at it, you can visit the library. They also have a 1949 draft of the "Standard Course." Would they let someone photocopy or scan these rarities? I wonder.

  3. Do we (the group) have a copy of the 'Standard Course'? I would be interested to see how similar/different it is to Simplified (and, of course, to Anniversary). Do we know if the Course was Dr Gregg's work only, or were Messrs Leslie and Zoubek involved by this stage?

    1. The "standard course" was never published, however, I believe there is a draft in the Gregg papers collection at the NYPL. If anyone living in or near NYC could make a request to the library to retrieve that publication from archive and make a pdf for us to examine, that would be awesome!

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